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Christian unity a duty and a great responsibility for all

· Benedict XVI concludes the ecumenical Week of Prayer at St Paul Outside-the-Walls ·

The re-establishment of unity is “a duty and a great responsibility”. For this reason the “active commitment” of all Christians is needed, because the reestablishment of brotherhood among Christ's disciples is also an important “goal” for the good of the entire “human family”. The Pope said this on Wednesday afternoon, 25 January in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, presiding at the traditional celebration of Second Vespers of the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle at the end of the 45th ecumenical Week of Prayer.

“When we implore the gift of unity”, the Pope explained in his Homily, “we make our own the desire expressed by Jesus Christ on the eve of his Passion and death in the prayer he addressed to the Father: “that they may all be one”. For this reason, he added, “The prayer for Christian unity is... participation in the realization of the divine plan for the Church”.

Noticing the presence at the rite of Representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Pontiff stressed that “in spite of experiencing in our day the sorrowful situation of division, we Christians can and must look to the future with hope, since Christ’s victory means surmounting all that prevents us from sharing the fullness of life with him and with others.... He accompanies us in the fight against the destructive power of sin that damages humanity and God’s entire creation”. The Pope also explained that “united in Christ, we are called to share his mission” to bring hope to wherever injustice, hatred and desperation prevail. Unfortunately, however, divisions dim the witness to Christ borne by Christians in society. And if, “in the dominant culture today, the idea of victory is often associated with instant success”, from the Christian viewpoint, “on the contrary, victory is a long, and in our human eyes, not always uncomplicated process of transformation and growth in goodness. It happens in God’s time... and requires of us deep faith and patient perseverance”. Consequently, Benedict XVI pointed out, “our expectation of the visible unity of the Church must also be patient and trusting”, since only “in this frame of mind do our prayers and our daily commitment to Christian unity find their full meaning”.

Yet, the Pope concluded, this attitude of patient waiting must not mean “passivity or resignation but rather a prompt and attentive response to every possibility of communion and brotherhood that the Lord gives us”.

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